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USA Today
David James Elliott Visits the Big Bambu

Metropolitan Museum of Art
June 17, 2010

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David James Elliott Speaking:

      I love bamboo, and it kind of speaks to me on an earth level, alright?  I just spent a bunch of time with my family in the Amazon living with a tribe deep in the jungle, and saw the worries and the plight that they deal with.  The Amazon has suffered an oil disaster---started in the '60's and continued.  It's 10 times as bad as the disaster in the Gulf.  That's how much oil was left for these poor people to deal with.  And they're all suffering from horrific cancers and skin ailments, and it's just very tragic.  So when you see something like this (the exhibit), it really brings it home---you know---about this fragile, incredible---incredibly beautiful, amazingly fragile world we live in.  And bamboo--this is certainly not fragile.  But it's a type of grass that we can grow that regenerates.  It's better than wood---you know, amazing stuff.  And look at it, and look at this view!  So why wouldn't you want to be here?

      I saw a film called "Crude" which is in the news right now, Joe Berlinger's film.  And Chevron won the first ruling, but it's in the Appellate Courts now, about having to turn over 600 hours of footage they shot while following Steven Donziger around in his fight, representing the aboriginal people of the Amazon in this oil disaster.

      The opportunity came up that we could take the whole family down, and embed ourselves in their culture and really experience it first-hand.  I have a 7-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter, and I just felt that it was really important for them to see another part of the world other than what we normally would see.   And certainly LosAngeles does not represent the rest of the planet.  So I'd always been fascinated with the Amazon as well, and it was a great opportunity to---and I didn't pass it up.

      Trudie Styler is involved.  She was in the film "Crude".  And as a result of the trip that she took, she came away having spoken to a lot of the families that are suffering these horrific diseases and ailments as a result of all this oil detritus.  She has a charity, run through UNICEF, where she provides these giant barrels, I guess, that filter water, so they can at least have clean water to drink and give to their animals.  So my daughter has started a T-shirt company---it's in its beginning stages---and all the proceeds of these T-shirts that she's selling will go to help Trudie's efforts in---You know, it's a prophylactic.  Certainly it's not cleaning up the oil, but it's helping them to exist, where they've lived for thousands of years.

      You know, the Amazon is disappearing, I think at the rate of seven football fields per minute---some insane---it'll be gone by the end of this century.  It provides 20% of the world's oxygen, so we'll probably be gone with it, if we don't wake up and realize.   And fortunately, I think if there's anything good to be taken out of what's happened in the Gulf, it's that I think the time when these giant companies can act with impunity around the world---people are starting to notice and say 'Aaah, it's not okay'.  Pretty scary.